Archive for July, 2012
by Johannes Goransson on Jul.17, 2012
Last week I wrote a little about Leif Holmstrand’s book Vid Mardrömmens Mål, his appropriations/translations of horror movies. I thought I would add a few more thoughts.
Some young men must kill their girlfriends
who are strange.
That’s the entire poem. A lot of texts I read (and write) involve translations/appropriations of the stuff of language – deformed words, distorted syntax, jarring images. But in Holmstrand’s book, the weirdness comes largely from descriptions of the plot. Ie it comes from the most debased form of criticism – the plot summary! What is supposed to be the antithesis of true poetry! We know that poetry is what is lost in translation and we know poetry is that which cannot be paraphrased. But here the literariness comes out of that most anti-literary mode of the paraphrase.
Continue reading “"Evil Dead": More on Leif Holmstrand's Horror Movies” »
by Johannes Goransson on Jul.14, 2012
Here’s a great little trailer from Jiyoon’s brilliant forthcoming book, Imma, which will be out from one of the truly essential presses of US poetry, Radioactive Moat (http://www.radioactivemoat.com/):
by Jiyoon on Jul.13, 2012
(this post is a reply to Johannes’ previous post on Leif Holmstrand http://montevidayo.com/?p=3036 )
Speaking of The Ring and “torn-apart/sewn apart woman’s body”:
It is interesting that in Ringu (リング ) the original Japanese version of The Ring, Sadako’s body is a twisted, creaking body, moving in a way that looks like it was badly put together, like a puppet with mismatching joints (watch from 1:00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_ZeILDNk6A).
by Johannes Goransson on Jul.12, 2012
Just got home and I’m reading Leif Holmstrand’s brilliant book Vid Mardrömmens Mål. I wrote a little about Holmstrand a while ago when he was in the latest Swedish issue of Action, Yes, but I can’t find it. He’s also an artist (some of his performances are on youtube). Anyway, this book is a bunch of poems that are remakes/summaries/analyses/translations of horror movies, such as Montevidayo’s favorites The Ring (which I wrote about here and here), Beyond and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (Interestingly Aase Berg rewrites both those two last ones so there may be a trend in Swedish poetry to rewrite horror movies.) Anyway, I am just really excited so here’s a brief and brilliant excerpt hastily translated:
Through a transparent plastic tube
large clumps of light marmelade
who becomes dangerous.
He does also talk about the gender issue, the torn-apart/sewn apart woman’s body, which I have written quite a bit about here on Montevidayo as well. For instance I read Plath -at her best – as very much in line with Berg’s and Holmstrand’s horror movie translations; and I read Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” as basically a reverse staging of the horrific sewing up and butchering apart of Frankenstein’s bride (all those stitches, that haircut).
Anyway, I am just really excited about this book and I’ll write more about the monstrosity of translations/reversions later.
by Danielle Pafunda on Jul.09, 2012
Here are some things I’ve been reading:
-G. Thomas Couser Signifying Bodies Disability in Contemporary Life Writing: are you writing a memoir? Do you have a body? Do you have a mind/body? This book is for you.
-Kim Q. Hall editor Feminist Disability Studies: thoroughly intersectional and provides a solid intro to disability studies. For a germinal introduction to the how and why of the discipline, Simi Linton’s Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity is most helpful.
-Ann Jurecic Illness as Narrative: I wish I had read this before I completed my pain poetics piece for ELN, but I didn’t, so now I just get to consider how Jurecic’s analysis of Elaine Scarry, Susan Sontag, and contemporary pain scholarship & narrative might influence its evolution. The overlap in our inquiries is a bit spooky, or else a very reasonable consequence of a sharp mind/body being/watching a body in pain. Bruno Latour’s “Why Critique Has Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” informs her critical framework and seems v. relevant to what Johannes was talking about.
-Here are the memoirs I’ve read: Ann Finger Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy and Birth, Terry Galloway Mean Little Deaf Queer, Lucy Grealy Autobiography of a Face, and Jeanette Winterson Why be Happy When You Could be Normal. I appreciated these memoirs more having read Signifying Bodies first.
by Carina on Jul.05, 2012
I thought the points brought up re: a Montevidayan image-based affect in the Joshua Corey discussion were interesting because I really like looking at things, I love paintings and images and movies and coloring books and clothing and attractive humans etc., and I have always thought that the best poems are the ones that function the same way paintings do. In undergrad I took this two-semester class on Modern and Contemporary Poetry in which we read the entire Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry while sitting on couch-cushions on the floor of a little salon, usually drinking tea or massive diet cokes out of puff-painted cups. We read Frank O’Hara’s poem “Why I Am Not A Painter” and it had an enormous impact on me for a lot of reasons, the first of which is my secret lifelong ambition to be a Great Painter as well as a Great Poet and the second, probably, having to do with the way text and color bleed into their opposite mediums – orange into O’Hara’s poems, “SARDINES” into Goldberg’s painting – and the way the visual becomes not merely a component of the work in question, but the initial point of readability; it names.
What has always appealed to me about painting is that there is no question of materiality – a painting = paint + surface. No one is going to question whether or not tempera or gouache is sincere; it is what it is.
Not so with poems; hence the sincerity argument, right? The problem with text-as-medium is that it is always to some extent a transitory medium rather than something that can be splashed upon a surface in its own right; it’s always questionable, always becoming-something. Because we cannot confine it to one body (lavender heavy-bodied acrylic, the substance, is always going to mean lavender heavy-bodied acrylic, the substance, whereas that particular sequence of letters need not conjure an image of a pot of lavender heavy-bodied acrylic paint), we question its sincerity, or perhaps more accurately, its authenticity.
The moves of an image-driven poem are not unlike the moves of an abstract expressionist painting; the goal is to layer transparencies, colors, weights, to take a line from nature that becomes a building that becomes a face.
We can see it in this bit from The Tennis Court Oath: “undeniably an oboe now the young/were there there was candy/to decide the sharp edge of the garment” – like a De Kooning, mixing on top of slashed-up mixed pigments until “emotion felt it sink into peace.” This is the same kind of work that Minnis does, although she’s perhaps closer to Miró in that the abstraction is not a matter of deconstructing the familiar, putting it in a blender, taking it out, and making new forms from the mess as it is the careful placing of flat monochromes on the same foreground.
I think in a lot of these conversations we’re using the term “sincerity” as a catchall for everything that seems pleasing or displeasing, depending on which side you’re on, to a given person or group of people in Poetry; it’s what no one wants to acknowledge. The arguments themselves are not lacking in passion or conviction, but the topic has become a kind of absolute surface, a pigment or texturizing agent used to embellish the already-established canvas/aesthetic with which those arguing were already working.
Interestingly enough, this doesn’t invalidate sincerity – it makes it more sincere. “Sincerity” becomes a text that is an empty body, or a total body (depending on how you want to read D&G), a medium that, like paint, we can layer and drip and manipulate to serve our ultimate purpose of art-making.
by Danielle Pafunda on Jul.03, 2012
Over on the ever-thoughtful Cahiers de Corey, Joshua Corey considers his new book of poems and how it fits into the current contemporary poetics schemata. Montevidayo guest stars, and the sincerity discussion further ravels/unravels:
The drama of the book from a poetics standpoint comes in seeking alternatives to what Jennifer Moore has called “the aesthetics of failure” that she associates with poets like Matt Hart and Tao Lin, which others have begun to refer to as “the new sincerity” (itself hardly a new term or idea). For these poets, Moore claims, “this deliberate embrace of failure is worked out through an explicit departure from an allegedly exhausted aesthetic and a movement toward a renewed emphasis on emotion.”
Meanwhile from another direction you have the conceptualists pursuing, as Vanessa Place and Rob Fitterman have put it,“strategies of failure” (Place tries to one-up Beckett in this interview: “fail again, fail worse”). And then in one of the liveliest quarters of the post-post-avant you have the aesthetic of the Montevidayans with their devotion to the political grotesque, to body-centered excess that pursues not “failure,” exactly, but an aggressive interrogation of the political-social structures that undergird the very notion of “success,” embracing poetry specifically (along with video nasties and other modes of marginalized spectacle) precisely for its weakness, its oddity, its place as a kind of malfunctioning prosthetic that calls attention to a profound and irremediable lack.
These three major aesthetics of failure, so predominant in poetry now, are just the latest reactions to (Joyelle McSweeney would say a zombie version of) a barred Romanticism, which I will simply and probably ahistorically define as a stance that assumes the mutual dependence of self and world, or if you prefer, freedom and determination. To continue to speak broadly and crudely, for a long time in American postwar poetry the self bestrode the world like a colossus, in sincere or grotesque manifestations (sincerely grotesque in the case of a Confessionalist like Sylvia Plath). Then as the tide of French theory began to slop against these shores we saw a new predominance of the world in the most interesting poetry, though “the world” appears in different guises: as heavily theorized social text for the Language poets, as gossip and theater for the New York School and its epigones. Now I would say that the self has been fully and completely invaded by the world/the other (on a DNA level, as a prism for the Spectacle, etc.), having been systematically deranged not by and for poetry but by the mediation of systems whose surfaces have never been more accessible (thanks to the Internet) even as their levers (who the boss?) and nodal points (the “tubes” of the real) have never been more obscure. The self wants to make a comeback, but it can only do so through some mode of abjection and surrender. What concerns me, for poetry, is that what’s being surrendered in at least the first two versions of failure before us is poetry itself, or more specifically, two of its three major dimensions.
He also says of Montevidayans poetry: “I think theirs remains a primarily image-based poetics.” I wonder if this is so. Two thoughts (in which I get oddly troubled by what image means): 1. I’m currently writing a mess of a feminist poetics piece for Evening Will Come. A femimess, where I consider speech as a sense/sensory organ (Embassytown!). Is an image rendered in what we most obviously regard as language a visual element? 2. Corey suggests a preoccupation with the visual image (or image apprehended via the eye first, ear second re: film?). I tend to think of my own work as affect-based, but do I rely primarily on image to produce it? Does the political grotesque demand this? What about Joyelle, whose musicality and soundscape Corey appreciates? Or Johannes, with his pageantry structures? Lara? Carina? Borzutzky? Mary? Lucas? Ji Yoon? Sarah? Dan? Etc.?
I’m also tempted to say that the self can only, could only ever manifest via abjection and surrender, but that’s rather absolute, and probably a formulation I’m drawn to for reasons more macabre than well-considered. I’ll get back to us on this one. Meanwhile, a field of plastic savannah animals are yelling at me can we hide from the street cleaner?!, so in this daycare-free zone, Montevidayans, I can only get the conversation started. Jump off wherever you like!
by Jiyoon on Jul.02, 2012
ASSIMILATION IS SINCERITY: foreigners, maids, & Love…
1. In order to be sincere you have to have interiority; You have my heart, my darling; You see right through me; You see who I really am inside, etc etc, your eyes are beautiful, eyes are the window to the soul, blah blah roses kisses put babies in me, forever future, never ending love.
2. Even in the cheapest romantic comedy there is this one absolute Rule that needs to be obeyed: The Rule of Sincerity. You HAVE to arrive sincerity at the end; reveal who you really are, accept who he/she really is; pour your heart out, fall in love, roses kisses put babies in me, forever future, never ending love.
by Johannes Goransson on Jul.02, 2012
It’s interesting to see the backlash against AD Jameson’s post about sincerity as technique; the intensity of which I think justifies my idea that it’s worth discussing.
It seems like most people are NOT objecting to the posts on the grounds that we’ve discussed here on Montevidayo – ie the concept of sincerity, the idea that there are formalist techniques separated off from culture. Instead they seem to object to it because they object to Jameson writing anything at all about sincerity, about poetry. In other words, they reject criticism as an insincere approach to poetry.
Continue reading “"Just Write!": The Corruption of Criticism” »
by Johannes Goransson on Jul.01, 2012
I’m about to head out to Massachussetts for the annual McSweeney family hoedown. I’m looking forward to reading a bunch of books. This is what I am packing:
McTeague by Frank Norris
Ann Jäderlund’s Samlade Dikter (lots of flowers, forests etc, always good to re-read in summer, especially since it features her important collection Soon into the summer I will walk out)
Of Embodies by Philip Sorenson
The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
Flowers of Spit by Chaterine Mavrikakis (trans. Nathanael)
and last but not least all of the books by the briliant new Swedish feminist press Dockhaveri